PARIS - Despite overcoming a 10-point second-half deficit, Kansas men’s basketball could not hold on to a late one-point lead, falling to the AMW France Pro Team, 74-73, in the first game of the EUROJAM 2012 here Saturday night.
The loss ended KU’s 41-game exhibition win streak that dated back to 1995, also a loss in France. It was also the first exhibition game loss for KU under head coach Bill Self, who will enter his 10th season on the sidelines in 2012-13.
An estimated crowd of 2,000 at Stade Pierre De Coubertin saw KU sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe’s three-point attempt as time was running out hit the back side of the rim in the Jayhawks’ run at the victory. AMW’s Antoine Diot made two free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining to retake the lead at 74-73. KU senior Elijah Johnson then drove the length of the floor and dished off to Tharpe, who had an open look from deep on the left wing.
Kansas trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, 52-42, and slowly cut into the deficit, trailing 60-54 heading into the final period. Down 69-64 with just over four minutes remaining, KU went on a 6-0 run to take a 70-69 lead on a free throw by freshman Zach Peters. Following a free throw from senior Travis Releford, Kevin Young threw down a slam dunk from a Johnson feed to give KU a 73-72 lead with 22 seconds remaining. AMW’s final five points came from the free throw line – the final four by Diot.
The home team shot 60 percent (12-for-20) from three-point range, while KU was 6-for-22 from beyond the arc for 27 percent. The AMW squad also shot more than twice as many free throws than the Jayhawks, making 14-of-26 to KU’s 7-of-12.
KU senior Travis Releford led KU with 10 points, while freshman Perry Ellis, senior Jeff Withey and Tharpe each had eight points. Peters started the contest and led the KU rebounders with seven to go along with six points. Souarata Cisse led ANW France, a mixed team of French Pro A and Pro B players, with 17 points, while Diot had 15.
Kansas will conclude its European exhibition trip Sunday against the same ANW France squad. Game time is set for 8 p.m. in Paris (1 p.m. Central time).